What Type of Entrepreneur Are You?
My affection for entrepreneurs is matched only by my obsession for comedy and French things. Over the past decade I’ve been related to them, elevated them, dated them…and at times, even hated them.
A former colleague of mine and I spent years launching tech startups in the U.S. market. Along the way, we encountered hundreds of entrepreneurs, guided them through tough decisions, and often talked them off cliffs -- acting more as psychologists than communications professionals.
This experience taught me a few things about what it takes to be an entrepreneur and the diversity of personalities that claim the title. In a fun game of what I call “psychological entrepreneur-typology,” I bring you a somewhat pseudo-scientific categorization of this special breed of human:
The Superpreneur needs little introduction, mostly because you know and feel them when you see them. Their entrepreneurial pursuits span space, time, countries and nations. They typically bite off more than they can chew in one, let alone four, lifetimes. Think Richard Branson, Elon Musk and Steve Jobs.
Want to become a superpreneur? Good luck. They’re as chaotic as they are awe-inspiring: Their road to success is a labyrinth of disconnected strokes of good fortune and unpredictable market timing infused with unparalleled genius.
This particular type of entrepreneur shares qualities with the Superpreneur, minus the mammoth global focus. Their ambitions may be smaller, but their efforts can also be life changing.
One close to home example of this type of entrepreneur is the Driver brothers, Adam and Graham, who applied their business chops to open Driver’s Market in Sausalito, Calif., -- along with a handful of their friends who have roots in the town.
The addition of Driver’s to my local community has had a profound impact that I feel and appreciate on a daily basis. They have quite literally changed the lives of thousands of locals, rooted in their goal of connecting people with each other and the foods that they eat.
Ahhh, the Wingpreneur. One of my personal favorites. The Wingpreneur can be likened to Batman’s Robin. Without her, the entrepreneur would not be nearly as powerful -- or likeable for that matter -- as the “wing” has a specific talent for assuming leadership when appropriate but happily taking the passenger’s seat so the entrepreneur can shine.
These folks are often found in “COO” or “co-founder” positions and are best suited to partnerships where they are not assuming all the risk. Typically, they are also adept at providing order to the chaos.
As a General Partner for Mohr-Davidow Ventures in Silicon Valley, Bryan Stolle encounters thousands of entrepreneurs a year as he seeks out startups to add to the company’s growing portfolio. More and more, on his various ‘trep finding journeys, he encounters an emerging type of entrepreneur who places product at the center of his vision:
“Typically, these folks are engineers who have technical expertise, but very limited experience in leadership, management or what it takes to build a significant company. While they are innovators in terms of envisioning a new product idea, they are best served finding a partner who can build a company around the product.”
As startups explode in number, and having one is this generation’s version of having a band in the 90’s, another emerging type of entrepreneur is what I tenderly refer to as the Fauxpreneur. If you don’t speak Frenglish, or haven’t heard of “faux fur” this will sum it up:
“Prestige is like a powerful magnet that warps even your beliefs about what you enjoy. It causes you to work not on what you like, but what you’d like to like.”
– Paul Graham.
Know any of these entrepreneurial types? Have anything to add? Let us know with a comment.
Rebekah Iliff is the chief strategy officer for AirPR, a technology platform to increase public-relations performance that serves Fortune 500 and fast growing technology companies. Previously, she was the CEO of talkTECH Communications, where she created an industry-first methodology for emerging technology companies which positioned talkTECH as one of the fastest growing, launch-only PR firms in the U.S. Iliff holds a B.A. in philosophy from Loyola University Chicago, and an M.A. in organizational management and applied community psychology from Antioch University at Los Angeles (AULA).